Trade negotiations between the EU and Mercosur are still alive, Brussels says in a reproach to Frenchman Macron

Adriana Lima
By Adriana Lima 5 Min Read
origin 1European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, proper, greets Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva earlier than a assembly at the EU headquarters in Brussels, July 2023 ©Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

“Discussions continue and the EU continues to pursue its objective of reaching an agreement that respects (…) sensitivities, in particular in the agricultural sector,” the EU govt’s chief spokesperson instructed reporters .

The remarks aimed to dispel claims by an Elysée official that Macron, a fierce opponent of the deal, had personally persuaded Commission head Ursula von der Leyen to order negotiators to halt the talks.

This got here as farmers ordered the siege of Paris as a part of wide-ranging protests in opposition to the Macron authorities. Among French farmers complaints It is the EU’s free commerce agreements with third nations that they are saying flood European markets with low-cost, low-quality merchandise, squeezing their income.

“The European Commission has understood that it’s inconceivable to attain a conclusion in this context. I feel it has seen the scenario in France, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, in Europe,” the French authorities official mentioned on Monday referring to the plight of farmers . protests erupted throughout the continent.

“We understand that the Commission has instructed its negotiators to end the negotiating sessions in Brazil,” the official added.

But the EU govt has reassured that negotiations on the deal – which might open up free commerce between the EU and the South American buying and selling bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – are “ongoing” and have solely taken place final week.

“I would love to remind you that it’s the Commission that negotiates free commerce agreements on the foundation of a mandate acquired from the Member States,” mentioned the govt spokesperson for agriculture and commerce.

“It is the Commission and only the Commission,” he added.

The bloc has been in commerce talks with Mercosur for greater than 20 years. A provisional settlement reached in 2019 was delayed, partly due to French issues about the impression of duty-free imports of agri-food merchandise on French farmers.

A farmer demonstrating in neighboring Belgium on Tuesday instructed RockedBuzz through Euronews he believes Europeans are “compelled not to produce at house however to import from overseas”, regardless of decrease requirements.

France has repeatedly referred to as for the 2019 deal to be reopened to embody social and environmental clauses, however the EU govt has resisted.

There are fears that the political penalties of the farmers’ revolts may additional strengthen the French opposition.

The deal has additionally confronted political hurdles throughout the Atlantic, with Brussels lately fearing that far-right libertarian Javier Millei’s election victory in Argentina may ruin the deal. Millei threatened to go away Mercosur throughout the election marketing campaign, however Brussels has continued to insist that he’s working in the direction of a deal.

Any settlement reached by the EU govt with Mercosur or another nation or third market could have to be ratified by the 27 member states and the European Parliament.

“At the moment the Commission considers that the conditions for concluding the negotiations with Mercosur are not met,” the Commission mentioned, a signal that the negotiations proceed to be stricken by difficulties.

Macron will focus on the problem on Thursday in a bilateral assembly with von der Leyen on the sidelines of the EU leaders’ summit.

His authorities has already finished so concessions in response to farmers’ demonstrations, together with a discount in gas taxes and a discount in crimson tape. But as protests proceed unabated and amid fears that France’s far-right events may make the most of farmers’ discontent, Macron is predicted to reiterate his agency opposition to the Mercosur deal.

The Commission mentioned the curiosity of farmers was a “precedence” in all free commerce negotiations with third nations.

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